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Male Factor Subfertility and Infertility


  • Male factor subfertility and infertility are conditions where a man is having problems getting a woman pregnant. Subfertility is a condition where a man has been unable to get a woman pregnant after one year of unprotected regular sex. Male factor infertility is being unable to get a woman pregnant due to a sperm problem in the man. These problems include asthenozoospermia (poor sperm movement), oligozoospermia (low number of sperm), and teratozoospermia (abnormal sperm shape). The causes of subfertility and infertility include genetics, infections, hypogonadism, or a varicocele. Other causes include problems with the immune system or the number, movement, and shape of the sperm. The male reproductive system includes the testicles, prostate, penis, scrotum, vas deferens, epididymis, and seminal ducts. Each testicle inside the scrotum produces sperm.
    Picture of male reproductive system
  • Signs and symptoms include being unable to produce a child, and the stress or emotional pressure caused by this. A mass or swelling on the scrotum that feels like a bag of worms may also be present (varicocele). To diagnose infertility, caregivers will ask you about your current health, and your health in the past. Tests may include a scrotal ultrasound, semen and sperm analysis, blood and urine tests, and genetic screening. Treatment may include medicine, percutaneous embolization, sperm extraction, or surgery to remove a varicocele or pituitary tumor. In some cases you may become fertile again after treatment.



  • Keep a current list of your medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Use vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
  • Take your medicine as directed: Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him about any medicine allergies, and if you want to quit taking or change your medicine.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

Eat healthy foods:

Choose healthy foods from all the food groups every day. Include whole-grain bread, cereal, rice, and pasta. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, including dark green and orange vegetables. Include dairy products such as low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. Choose protein sources, such as lean beef and chicken, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. Ask how many servings of fats, oils, and sweets you should have each day, and if you need to be on a special diet.


  • Avoid pesticides: Chemicals, such as pesticides (chemicals that kills insects and other bugs), may lower your sperm count.
  • Have frequent sex: The number of healthy sperm that you have can be increased by having sex often.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol, or drink less of it: Alcohol decreases sperm production. It is found in beer, wine, liquor, such as vodka and whiskey, and in other adult drinks.
  • Stop smoking: Nicotine may change your semen, making it less able to make a woman pregnant.
  • Keep your scrotum cool: Heat lowers the number of sperm made (sperm production). Avoid hot baths and heat to the scrotum. Wearing tight underwear, such as briefs, holds the testicles close to the body. This warms up the testicles and may lower sperm production. Loose underwear, such as boxers, lets the testicles stay cooler by being away from the body.

For more information:

Having male factor infertility may be hard for you. You and those close to you may feel angry, depressed, or frightened. These are normal feelings. Talk to your caregivers, family, or friends about your feelings. Contact any of the following for more information:

  • American Academy of Family Physicians
    11400 Tomahawk Creek Parkway
    Leawood , KS 66211-2680
    Phone: 1- 913 - 906-6000
    Phone: 1- 800 - 274-2237
    Web Address:
  • American Society for Reproductive Medicine
    1209 Montgomery Highway
    Birmingham , AL 35216-2809
    Phone: 1- 205 - 978-5000
    Web Address:


  • You have a fever.
  • You have chills or feel weak and achy.
  • You have pain in the groin area that does not go away.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition, treatment, or care.


  • Your bandage becomes soaked with blood.
  • You feel very sad, or you want to harm yourself or someone else.
  • You feel very full and cannot burp or vomit (throw up).
  • You have pus or a foul-smelling odor coming from your incision.
  • You have severe (bad) chest or shoulder pain and trouble breathing all of a sudden.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Male Factor Subfertility and Infertility (Discharge Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.